Millions of Americans are diagnosed with thyroid disorders every year, and you need to be aware of signs you may have a thyroid problem to make sure you’re not one of them. Many women who are in menopause or in perimenopause find themselves suffering from hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Since the thyroid gland is one of our most important hormone glands, it is important to take care of your thyroid as much as possible. Naturally, since it is a hormone gland, it makes sense how easily it can become out of balance, especially for women in their menopausal years. Yet, even if you’re not nearing menopause, or in menopause, you should be aware of some signs you may have a thyroid problem. Your thyroid gland can slow down or speed up from anything due to stress, life changes, illness, or even your diet. It's important to optimize your thyroid knowledge by being aware of a few telltale signs it isn't working properly. Not only can poor thyroid function rob you of vitality, but it can cause many cause many other health issues you might not be aware of.
1. Constant Fatigue
One of the main signs you may have a thyroid problem is if you have constant fatigue. You’ll often see this come in the form of needing to lie down several times through the day, or you might find you can’t even make it through the day without a nap. Even if you get a full night’s rest, you’ll often feel as though you’re exhausted all the time if your thyroid is to blame. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing energy for your body, and it is the "generator" of your metabolism, so to speak. Constant fatigue usually only affects those suffering hypothyroidism, where individuals with hyperthyroidism may suffer an excessive amount of energy or trouble concentrating from an overactive metabolism, or jittery nerves.
2. Hair Loss
Is your hair constantly falling out, or are you starting to see more shedding of hair when showering? Hair loss is another one of the top signs you may have a thyroid problem. Though hair loss can be caused by many things, such as vitamin deficiency, stress, or simple hormonal changes, it is also one of the top signs you may have a thyroid problem. When combined with other symptoms, this is definitely something to be aware of when deciding if it is thyroid related or not.
3. Dry Skin
Flaking skin and overall dryness are also signs your thyroid might not be working properly. If you’re having to constantly apply skin moisturizing treatments like oils and lotion, with no positive results, it could be thyroid related. Unless your dry skin is related to seasonal weather changes, it could be a sign that your thyroid isn’t functioning properly. Dry skin in the form of dry scalp and dandruff are included in this symptom as well.
4. Weight Gain
Almost anyone suffering from hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, will suffer weight gain. The thyroid gland produces hormones that are responsible for a healthy metabolism. This is one reason that fatigue comes on so easily with underactive thyroid. Your thyroid basically runs your metabolism. The two hormones T3 and T4, produced by the thyroid, are responsible for the speed of your metabolism. Anytime they are not functioning normally at optimal levels, your metabolism will slow down quickly.
5. Weight Loss
Hyperthyroidism may cause weight loss, due to the fact that your body is producing excessive amounts of T3 and T4. While this sounds like something most women wish they could worry about, the truth is that hyperthyroidism is its own nightmare in a different way. Trouble sleeping, trembling hands and feet, jittery nerves, constant agitation, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, muscle pain, and even eventual weight gain from eating more all the time, can all be signs of hyperthyroidism. If you begin suffering extreme weight loss along with these symptoms, be sure you’re aware it could be related to hyperthyroidism so you can get an evaluation.
Most everyone with a thyroid problem will suffer depression. Technically, you could actually be diagnosed with a normal thyroid, yet your thyroid hormone levels could be just below or just above the normal amounts. This means that while you might not have an official diagnosis, your thyroid hormone levels could still not be at optimal amounts for you. Depression is a symptom of many things, yet if you notice that your health hasn’t been its best, you’re tired a good bit of the time, and your mood begins to plummet, don’t rule out a thyroid problem. The thyroid can be offset by many, many different things from stress, diet changes, other hormonal changes, and depression, coincidentally. Sadly, antidepressants have actually been found to negatively affect the thyroid function, which is why most people are put on both thyroid medication and an antidepressant at the same time when dealing with a thyroid problem.
7. Enlarged Throat
Another top sign you may have a thyroid disorder is if you have an enlarged throat. Technically, this is known as a goiter, and is the result of an underactive thyroid. Goitrogens in foods such as processed soy, cruciferous vegetables, and many others, can actually lower the function of your thyroid glands. I know for me, when I first tried to go vegetarian before I knew much about soy, I ate way too much of it, and suffered low thyroid dramatically. As soon as I cut it out of my diet, I never had a problem. Goitrogens have been linked to enlarged goiters in the throat, which is a direct sign of poor thyroid health. If your throat is enlarged, and you seem to have a mass in your neck, do be aware that could have hypothyroidism, so you can see a specialist immediately.
I suggest that if you begin to show any signs of a possible thyroid problem, see your doctor immediately for testing. One of my absolute favorite resources for learning about thyroid health is the book The Thyroid Diet, by Mary J. Shomon. You can find her book online at a very reasonable price, and it is one I recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about their thyroid health. I read her book eight years ago, and still refer back to it today when I want helpful tips about how to optimize my thyroid function. You can find more about her book here: amazon.com. Have you ever suffered from hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism?